New Standards Recommended to Improve Big Rig Safety

April 10, 2014

Big Rig Safety

With the goal of improving big rig safety, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recently recommended four changes to tractor-trailer design standards and three changes to crash reporting guidelines. The Board's truck and trailer design recommendations focus largely on improving driver visibility and underride protection and are based primarily on issues raised in a 2013 NTSB safety study on single-unit trucks.

"Millions of large trucks travel our roadways every day, transporting goods and keeping the American economy moving. But research shows that eliminating blind spots and underride events would reduce fatalities and injuries involving other road users," NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman said in a NTSB press release.

NTSB Safety Recommendations

The NTSB's new safety recommendations are suggested for newly manufactured truck-tractors and trailers and are summarized below.

For truck tractors with a gross vehicle weight over 26,000 lbs:

  • Equip truck tractors with a visibility enhancement system to improve the driver's ability to detect passenger vehicles, pedestrians and other road users.
  • Equip truck tractors with side underride protection systems.

Trailers with a gross weight over 10,000 lbs:

  • Equip trailers with side underride protection systems.
  • Revise current standards for trailer rear underride protection systems to protect the occupants of passenger vehicles from fatalities and serious injuries during the occurrence of full-width or offset trailer rear impacts.
  • Suggested changes to crash reporting guidelines
  • Add trailer vehicle ID numbers and model year to the Fatality Analysis Reporting System database for trailers with a gross weight over 10,000 lbs.
  • In the next edition of the Uniform Crash Criteria Guideline, require reporting of trailer license plate numbers and trailer identification numbers under the motor vehicle license number requirement.

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